Thursday, June 19, 2014

San Diego Running Tour

I read about City Running Tours in Runners World last month and thought the concept was really cool. They offer personalized and group running tours in a variety of cities to accommodate running tourists who are interested in learning about an area and getting in some exercise at the same time. I had a business trip planned for San Diego and was pleased to see it was one of the locations with running tours.

I did some research on the offerings and decided on a personal running tour, since they were a little longer in distance than the group tours and had the added bonus of starting at my hotel. Josh Poe, the manager of San Diego City Running Tours, answered all of my questions via email and sent me the link to sign up for the tour via If you've registered for races, chances are you already have an account with and are familiar with the website. It was an easy sign-up process. I selected a 6-mile run and told Josh that there wasn't any specific area or landmark that I wanted to see; that I was simply interested in seeing cool and unique things in San Diego.

I planned my running tour for 10:30 am. My conference presentation was from 8-9 and I knew it would be a great reward for myself to have the run to look forward to after my presentation. And it was the perfect reward! I headed back to my hotel after presenting and got prepped - ate a clif bar, slathered on the sunscreen, put on my road id, and set up my garmin to livetrack my run to Rick. Unfortunately I changed up my livetrack protocol and told it to post to facebook, also. I don't usually do that but I thought it might be a cool thing to post. Like a good app it asked me for permission to post on my behalf, but that message didn't pop up right away so I didn't see it. So my livetrack session never started and Rick was left wondering what the heck had happened to my run.

Josh met me at the hotel and brought post-run goodies for me that he left with the concierge. My goodie bag consisted of a City Running Tours t-shirt (in my tiny size!), clif bloks in citrus flavor,endurox muscle recovery in tangy orange (I tried this for the first time after the run and really liked it), a bottle of water, a postcard and a sticker:
post-run goodie bag (minus the water)

Josh met me in the hotel lobby and we had no trouble finding each other since we were the only two people dressed to run. Also Josh was sporting a City Running Tours t-shirt. The concierge checked my goodie bag and took a picture of us before we took off.

We ran at my pace, and there were lots of photo opportunities along the way (Josh brought a camera to take pictures for me), which gave me a chance to catch my breath and sip some water when I needed it. I forgot to change the settings on my garmin to pause tracking whenever I stopped moving, luckily it calculates both an average pace and an average moving pace for your overall run. So my average moving pace was 11:32, a little faster than I tend to do my training runs. I was very pleased with that. The average pace overall was 14:38, which gives you an idea of how often we stopped to look at things. We ran 6.63 miles overall, and Josh kept me entertained the whole way with San Diego factoids and running tips.

Seaport Village
The first leg of our run was through Seaport Village. We ran along the bay through an area that was designed to feel like a quaint seaside fishing village. It is a car-free area, so it was especially great for running. Josh pointed out various restaurants and the ferry to Coronado.

Tuna Harbor Park
Our first photo opportunities were in Tuna Harbor Park where there are several war memorials. We stopped to see the Unconditional Surrender and the National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military. Both were amazing and inspiring. 
Unconditional Surrender

Bob Hope

Little Italy
We ran into Little Italy, with Josh pointing out various restaurants and points of interest along the way. It was a charming area with an authentic vibe and some beautiful architecture. Josh also described a special "one-mile walk" in Little Italy that is designed to take residents & visitors through Little Italy without crossing any major intersections or stoplights. The walk is marked with granite plaques every 1/8 of a mile. Heading out of Little Italy we stopped into a funky restaurant designed to mimic "down under" called Queenstown Public House.
Little Italy

Ballast Point Brewery
Rick would love this place!

Santa Fe Depot
Next we headed to the Santa Fe Depot train station. It is absolutely beautiful inside, with Spanish Colonial Revival style decor that is stunning. The tiling on the walls was especially amazing.

Horton Plaza
Then we headed up Broadway towards Horton Plaza Mall. It is very unique in its design, incorporating unusual architecture elements and spatial design that can make you feel like you are in an Escher drawing. It's a vibrant, artistic, interesting outdoor mall.
A small piece of Horton Plaza Mall

Gaslamp Quarter
We ran through the Gaslamp Quarter where there were many restaurants and shops to check out. I enjoyed looking at the colorful storefronts and listening to the colorful language of some of the people on the street. Very entertaining!
Entrance to the Gaslamp Quarter

Petco Park
We ran to Petco Park which was one of my favorite parts of the run. Petco Park is the home for the San Diego Padres and yesterday there was a touching fan-created memorial for the Padres' Hall of Fame Outfielder Tony Gwynn, who had died of cancer the day before. You could feel how beloved Tony Gwynn was by San Diego and I felt privileged to witness the tribute.
Fan tribute to Tony Gwynn

On many days you can freely
enter this part of Petco Park!

Up close at Petco Park

Across the street from Petco Park

San Diego Central Library
From Petco Park we headed to the fairly new San Diego Central Library. It was the biggest library I've ever seen, with a lovely dome at the top. The library website boasts "30 years in the making and it's finally here!" The people of San Diego could teach Fairfax County a thing or two about libraries. Every time I hear about further library budget cuts I get mad!

Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge
Our final stop before returning to my hotel was the Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge. It is 550 feet long, and one of the largest self-anchored pedestrian bridges in the world! The bridge is suspended from a 131 foot-tall pylon that is set at a 60 degree angle. It was designed to accommodate pedestrian traffic to/from Petco Park that needed to cross Harbor Drive.
Look out!
We've got a jumper on the bridge!

I had a great time touring San Diego while running. Josh was a fantastic guide with lots of knowledge about the city and running. I highly recommend taking a running tour with him the next time you are in San Diego - thanks Josh!


  1. What an interesting way to see more of the city. Awesome post.

  2. I would have enjoyed the walking tour. Glad you were able to enjoy the city!

  3. Needed to leave a comment on here, too. This is so cool! I just checked their website and they do tours in Minneapolis and Chicago - both of which I'll be at during the week of 7/20-7/25. Must see what I can fit in!!

    1. I hope you can do at least one of Minneapolis and Chicago! I would love to hear about another city's tour!

  4. You saw the whole city! Cool. We should go do the DC one just for fun one day

    1. We should Deborah! They have a ton of different areas that they cover in DC. What a fun MRTT field trip!

  5. Love this! I love when people love my city! It is a great city for a run! And everyone is so friendly. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for reading! I'll let you know if I come back to SD - would love to meet you :)

  6. Such a great idea and looks/sounds like you had fun on your private tour! I'd love to do something like this!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Meridith!

  7. I wish I would've had an opportunity to do this when I was in Atlanta for work recently. DC would be cool to try

    1. I think we should get a group together and do DC just for fun.

  8. Kim, I *just* signed up for a tour in Chicago! Can't wait! I'm doing a group tour and am nervous about the pace, but at least I'll be able to rest at each stop. haha

    1. Cool! I can't wait to hear about it. I understand being nervous about the pace, but I'm sure it will be fine. I think I'm going to Boston in October and I'm hoping to do one there. We should do one in DC just for fun.